Residents: Don’t trade Huntley history for parking lot
By Jeanie Mayer For The Courier-News June 22, 2012 3:22PM
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:38AM
HUNTLEY — The village board Thursday heard comments from several village residents concerned about the village’s plans to possibly tear down a historical building it purchased recently.
The former Sawyer Kelley Mill, at the corner of Woodstock and Main streets, was identified by the village as one that might be razed as part of the downtown revitalization plan.
According to Village Manager David Johnson, the lot then would be used for downtown parking.
Donna Britton, commissioner and chairperson of the Huntley Historic Preservation Commission, spoke out in favor of adaptive reuse for the building, and she implored the board not to demolish it.
“It is sad to think that we would demolish and destroy the Sawyer Mill — demolish our history, for a parking lot,” Britton said. “We implore you to save that building. Do not destroy that building.”
Fellow Commissioner Lonni Oldham referenced her participation in the original meetings for the Downtown Revitalization Plan.
“I was pleased to see I wasn’t the only one who wanted to keep the downtown historic,” Oldham said. “We were told the historic charm of the downtown would be maintained. ... Take a bold step to model what can be done to preserve historical structures.”
The board members did not comment.
In other business:
GFE-Fence, Guardrail and Siding Ltd., at 11921 Smith Drive, received a tentative go-ahead from board members to occupy a mobile office building for up to the next six years. Johnson told the board that the company received approval from the plan commission to use a 2,820-square-foot mobile office building until the firm can get financing for a permanent structure on the site.
The board is expected to grant approval of the site plan at this week’s board meeting.
The board is preparing to proceed with the preparation of a redevelopment plan and project for the proposed tax increment finance district located downtown as part of Phase 2 measures to establish the TIF District.
The board authorized a feasibility analysis with the firm Kane, McKenna and Associates in December 2011 to determine if the area meets the qualifications necessary to establish a TIF district.
Village President Charles Sass said the board has met with all of the other taxing bodies — including School District 158, the fire department and the Huntley Area Library — to gauge their support of the TIF.
“They understood (the need). For all intents and purposes, it went fairly well,” Sass said of the discussions.
Phase 2 of the process will include creating the redevelopment plans, defining the boundaries of the district, estimating the costs for projects completed within the TIF and holding public hearings. The costs for Phase 2 are estimated to run between $22,000 and $27,000.
Authorization to proceed with the Phase 2 plans will be voted on next week.
The village board received a plaque and certificate from auditor and certified public accountant Frederick Lantz of Sikich, who reviewed the village’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012. According to Lantz, only a small percentage of villages receive a clean and unqualified opinion for their audits.
Lantz compared the village to a $250 million fiscal corporation with a very low debt level for a village of its size.
“You have adopted good fiscal policies that have served the village well,” Lantz said of the financial standing of the village.
The entire report will be placed on the village’s website upon approval next week.